Universiteit Leiden

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Marco Maiolini

PhD candidate

M. Maiolini
+31 71 527 4910

Cognitive biases affect how we perceive the world every day, but do they influence animal perception too? In my PhD project, I will study the cognitive biases in the acoustic perception in multiple species, to understand their origins and which role they play in the species-specific communication.

More information about Marco Maiolini


Have you ever thought that we perceive a tick-tock from the clock even if it is just a metronome sound?  

How we perceive the world depends on the physical aspects of the things around us, but also on how we perceive them. Cognitive biases, like the tick-tock bias, affect human perception in different modalities, going from the pareidolia effect to body odours that affect moral decisions.  

In my PhD project, I focus on the cognitive biases in the acoustic modality studying their presence and their role in four distinct species, two birds, zebra finches and budgerigars and two primates, common marmosets, and humans. To do that I will use two different behavioural tests to get insight into animal perception, discrimination tests and preference tests.  

 This research can give insight into the presence and the meaning of these biases in our and in other species, also giving some hints about their role in the evolution of human language and music. 

Brief biography

In 2017 I obtained my BSc in Biology at the University of Perugia (Italy) studying the dominance in cheetahs’ coalition with a playback study for my thesis. From that moment on, I developed a growing interest in bioacoustics that brought me to obtain my MSc in Animal behaviour at the University of Torino (Italy) in 2020 with a thesis studying the rhythmicity of songs and calls of the Indris lemur in Madagascar.  

In 2021 I worked at the University of Neuchatel (Switzerland) investigating which are the common features of great apes’ vocalizations.  

In September 2023 I started my PhD at Leiden University, inspecting the cognitive biases in acoustic perception in birds and primates to understand where they originate in the phylogeny three and their role in specie-specific communication. 

PhD candidate

  • Science
  • Instituut Biologie Leiden
  • IBL Animal Sciences

Work address

Sylviusweg 72
2333 BE Leiden
Room number 7.4.18


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